tv Senate Session CSPAN January 20, 2015 10:00am-12:31pm EST
speeches and resuming debate on a bill to approve the keystone xl oil pipeline. they will break a run 1230 him for party lunches in the back to work on a mammoth to the keystone bill. later tonight live coverage on c-span2 as the senate gathered at 830 eastern to head over to the house for the state of the union address. live preview program that starts at 8 p.m. eastern with your phone calls over on c-span. and in coverage of the state of the union address across the c-span networks. the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. oh lord, our lord, how excellent is your name on all the earth. make this day an opportunity for
our lawmakers to advance your providential purposes. may they think your thoughts striving always to do your will. lord, lead them together to find solutions to the problems that beset our nation and world. calm their fears and strengthen their faith, as you use them to accomplish your will. let your peace guard their hearts. we pray in your strong name. amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag.
mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the president pro tempore: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: today the senate is continuing to consider s. 1 a bill to approve the keystone x.l. pipeline. chairman murkowski and senator cantwell are here this morning to manage debate and there are several amendments pending. we'll begin voting on those and any other amendments in the queue shortly after lunch today. senators also should begin gathering in the chamber at 8:20 this evening so that we can proceed as a body to the house for the state of the union address. now, mr. president i understand there is a bill at the desk that is due for second reading. the presiding officer: the clerk will read the bill for the
second time, the title of the bill for the second time. the clerk: h.r. 240 an act making appropriations for the department of homeland security for the fiscal year ending september 30, 2015, and for other purposes. mr. mcconnell: in order to place the bill on the calendar under the provisions of rule 14, i would object to further proceeding. the presiding officer: the objection is heard. the bill will be placed on the calendar. mr. mcconnell: now mr. president, we'll welcome president obama to the capitol. we look forward to hearing what he has to say. we're looking forward to senator ernst's address as well. joni ernst understands the concerns of hardworking families in a way much of washington hasn't. that's why the people of her state sent her here, to fight for them. she'll explain the commitment of this new congress to work for policies aimed at the good jobs and better wages that americans
deserve. tonight is a big moment for the president and for our country. the tone he strikes and the issues he highlights will tell us a lot about what to expect in his presidency's final act. there's a lot riding on it, and we'll be listening closely. one option is the path he's been on for so many years. i sincerely hope he makes a different choice. the american people just spoke in clear terms about this direction. they called for a new one. we should work together to make washington focus on their concerns. working with the new congress for positive change, that's the second option for president obama. it's the one struggling families and serious policy-makers urge him to choose.
the new congress has already started to take up smart bipartisan ideas focused on jobs and reform. but when we've asked the white house for constructive engagement what we've seen at least so far has been pretty discouraging. we need to change this dynamic. we need to turn the page. the state of the union offers that opportunity. the american people aren't demanding talking point proposals designed to excite the base but not designed to pass. what they said they're hungry for is substance and accomplishment. they want washington to get back to work and focus on the serious jobs and reform agenda. they said they're ready to see more constructive cooperation especially on bipartisan jobs initiatives. bipartisan jobs initiatives like the keystone infrastructure
bill. keystone has support in both parties. it's an important piece of infrastructure for our country. and according to what the obama's own state department has said previously, constructing the pipeline would support literally thousands of jobs. it's already passed the house. we're currently working to pass it through the senate. it will be on the president's desk before long. we see no reason for him to veto these jobs. but whatever he decides we're going to keep working for positive middle-class jobs ideas here in congress. as i've said before, we're not here to protect the president from a good idea, and if the president is willing to work for us there's much we can get accomplished for the american people. we've already identified several areas of potential cooperation like tearing down trade barriers in places like europe and the
pacific bainlding jobs -- and building jobs with progrowth simplification and working to prevent cyber attacks. on these issues the president previously sent positive signals. now we need constructive engagement. we'll be looking for signs of that in the speech he delivers tonight. what i hope is that he presents some positive bipartisan ideas of his own that can pass the congress americans just voted for. give us new ideas to prevent iran from becoming a country with nuclear weapons or to confront the threats posed by terrorism, or to remove regulations that hurt struggling coal families. challenge us with truly serious realistic reforms that focus on growth and raising milk --
middle-class incomes reforms that don't just spend more money we don't have. and if the president is ready for a new beginning beyond canceled health plans work with us to pursue an achievement that history will actually remember. reach across the aisle to allow us to save and strengthen medicare tell america your plan for responsible reforms aimed to balance the budget, not just more tired tax hikes. achieving important reforms like these would represent a win for hardworking families. it would deliver the kind of commonsense progress americans deserve. so we welcome the president tonight. we look to his address with interest. and if the president is ready to play offense we urge him to
join the new congress and play offense on behalf of the american people. mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: mr. president tonight president obama will deliver his state of the union address around -- and outline his plan to make life better for middle-class families. i've heard from both sides democrats and republicans the lament that even though many hardworking families are doing their best and businesses are more profitable because their workers are more productive, a lot of families don't see it in their paychecks. they struggle from paycheck to paycheck to pay for the basics in life. and so we have to ask ourselves what will we do about this. will we do anything? i worry that the comments just made by the majority leader suggest that he is relying on faith alone. faith in our free market system, faith in the belief that if we
have an expanding economy -- which we do -- if we have profitability in corporations -- which we do -- that it will translate into a better standard of living for working families. well it may be an article of faith, but it's one that can be challenged because that's exactly what's been happening in america for years. you see the economy has been growing. we've seen an increase in jobs for 58 straight months. but at the same time we've noted that the families, the working families across america don't see any change in their lives. they don't see any income change. then we look at the reality and the reality shows that the gap between the rich and poor in america just grows larger and larger. we could talk separately about the compensation for c.e.o.'s of corporations. it's reaching record levels, far beyond the excesses of previous moments in american economic history. what we're finding is that people at the very top of the corporate ladder are taking out
more money from the economy than the workers who are generating the profits that they are gleaning. that's not right. the president is going to challenge us to get beyond faith in our free market system to good works by congress. and he's going to talk about specifics, things that the average family can understand and appreciate. the earned-income tax credit, here's an effort to say if you are working, we will make sure that your tax burden gives you a break so that you have additional money for your family to pay for day care for your kids to make certain that you can pay for utility bills and the basics of life. i've joined with senator sherrod brown of ohio. we want to try to make the earned-income tax credit available to more and more working americans so that we can supplement their income as they struggle to get by paycheck to paycheck. that's one of the first things we can do.
the second thing the president will address is college affordability. there are plenty of critics of the president's plan but i think he's put his finger on reality. we can no longer be satisfied by saying it is the responsibility of our society to provide education from kindergarten through the 12th grade. that doesn't reflect the reality of work today. in just a few years, more than a third of the jobs across america will require a college degree. what are we doing to prepare that workforce in america for the 21st century requirements when it comes to education? we know what's happening. more and more students are getting deeper and deeper in debt and many are dropping out because of it. those who finish and earn a diploma are saddled with a debt which changes their lives. president obama has said let us start moving forward to make two years of community college a commitment in america for those students who are in need, number
one. and, number two are willing to meet the standards. and the standards are graduation within three years. i look at some of the comments that have been made in criticism of this, and they overlook the second part of the president's proposal, that part which demands that those students perform in order to receive assistance from our government in paying for community college. we have to look at a new model in america. in arkansas, in illinois across america there is a k-14 model. that is reality. certain we have to improve the 2-12 performance when it two-thirds in many states come to community colleges not performing at the 12th grade level there is work to be done at the lower grades. but let's assume the obvious. if you want a good-paying job in the future, you need additional training. the affordable place to go is a community college and we ought
to make that a pathway that is affordable for every dedicated hardworking student and their family. that isn't all. the president also acknowledges and will acknowledge tonight the reality of the housing market. since 2009, our housing market in america has been recovering from a recession. home building has more than doubled. a lot of jobs for construction workers. home prices are going back up. millions of families whose home value was less than what they owed on their mortgage are now turning the corner. but for many americans buying a home is just still out of reach. the president plans to reduce the f.h.a. mortgage insurance premiums, which is going to help responsible americans afford a home. faith in our free market, but good works by congress when it comes to these essentials. and the president's also going to propose a healthy family's -- healthy families act. here is something that gets to
the reality of life for working americans. it would provide in businesses with 15 or more employees up to seven paid sick days each year. you might say to yourself, well, what is a business going to do with people taking seven days off in sick leave? what we found is if the employer will stand behind the employees when it comes to the basics like sick leave they'll get more loyalty and more performance from those employees. that is a fair trade and it's one the president is going to propose this evening. so i would say to the majority leader and those who share his position faith in the free market is a good thing but not enough. we need to step in and make sure we have faith in working families faith in the belief that if they can improve their life if their struggle paycheck to paycheck is somehow lessened, we're all going to be better off for it. i support the president's message this evening and look forward to hearing it delivered.
mr. president, on a separate topic, late last night i returned from havana, cuba, with senator patrick leahy senator stabenow senator whitehouse, congressman van hollen and congressman welsh of vermont. it was a whirlwind trip. in a matter of two days, we had a number of visits with a variety of different people in havana. they included government officials. bruno rodriguez who is the foreign minister of the cuban government. had a lengthy meeting with him yesterday. we had a meeting with about ten different ambassadors from foreign countries to cuba. we met as well with about a dozen reformers or dissidents, opponents of the current castro regime in cuba and had individual meetings with ministries. this was a productive and important delegation trip, important because starting tomorrow, we are going to have face-to-face negotiations in havana between the united states and cuba pursuant to president
obama's december 17 announcement. we are setting out to change the foreign policy of the united states as it regards cuba. it's time for a change. for over 50 years, we have been committed to a policy of exclusion, believing that if we had embargoes and blockades we could force internal change in cuba. the policy failed. the castro brothers still reign and life in cuba is not what we want to see. what the president has said, let's engage them at a different level, a constructive level where we try to find ways to open up the cuban economy and cuban society. that to me, is the best course, and it isn't just a theory that it's the best course. it's been proven. when the soviet empire came to an end, what happened to the warsaw pact nations allied with the soviet union? they opened their doors to the west. they saw what they could anticipate to be part of their life in the future, and they made the conscious choice to
move forward democracy to move toward free market economy. i think the same can happen in cuba. one young man came to speak to us he had gotten in trouble because he challenged the cuban government. they put him back on a pig farm to work but he was still determined to aspire to a better place in cuba in the future. he said to us what president obama's announcement has done is to pull the blanket off the caged bird in cuba. those of us who live in cuba are still in the cage of communism but we can see out now about opportunities and a future. that, i believe is part of what the president's new policy is all about. when we were discussing our current blockade with cuba, with their leadership, we learned that powdered milk comes to cuban citizens from new zealand. halfway around the world.
when this is ample supply here in the united states. what we are trying to do is to not only open up the cuban economy to powdered milk, but to the power of ideas the exchange of values, the belief that if the cuban people see a better model for their future, that they will gravitate toward that model. this negotiation which opens this week is the beginning of this conversation. the president is moving in areas of trade and travel, as we hope he will do, to expand these opportunities, but we have to do our part in congress, and as contentious and spirited as the debate may be about changing our policy in cuba, it wasn't that long ago that we stood on the floor of the united states senate and considered establishing diplomatic relations with vietnam and there were some with fresh memories of all that we had lost over 40,000 american lives
in vietnam who said we shouldn't have a normal relationship with what is a repressive regime in a country that we just concluded a war with. others with cooler minds prevailed, and we established diplomatic relations and i think to the betterment of both nations. let us move forward not forsaking our principles, not turning our back on our belief that the cuban society should be more open, fair and legitimatized by the voters at the polls but believing that we can work with this country as we have with others around the world, even when we disagree with their form of government and their practices to try to strive to reach that democratic ideal. mr. president, the last point i would like to make relates to a motion that was made this morning by the majority leader. it was related to the appropriation bill for the department of homeland security. why are we bringing up this appropriation bill at this moment? because when we agreed last december to fund our government, the republicans in the house
insisted that we carve out the department of homeland security and not give it its regular budget. instead give it emergency spending a continuing resolution. this is not the way to run any department of government, certainly not the department of homeland security. why is it important to fund this department? you need only look to what's happened in the last few days in paris to understand that the threat of terrorism to the world is still very real. our first -- one of our first lines of defense when it comes to terrorism is our department of homeland security. there is no excuse for us to be dealing with this continuing resolution to fund this department. they should have the resources they need to keep america safe, but instead what has happened is this -- the house of representatives last week said we will only agree to fund this department properly if we can provide certain writers and changes in the law as part of
it. i would tell you that the change that has been proposed by the house of representatives is unacceptable. the president has said he is going to veto it if it's sent to his desk and i totally support his position, because here is what they have come up with in the house of representatives. if you are familiar with the dream act which i introduced in congress 14 years ago it says if a young person is brought to the united states at an early age, parents making the decision to come to this country and that young person grows up in the united states, finishes high school no serious criminal problems willing to go forward to higher education or to the military we'll give them a chance of becoming legal in america. that's the dream act. it's been considered and passed on the floor of the senate, considered and passed on the floor of the house but never in the same session and so it's not the law of the land. president obama a little over two years ago came out with a
program, an executive order program known as daca. daca said to these young people who would qualify under this law, if you will come forward and register with our government if you will pay the filing fee if you will allow us to do the background check we'll allow you to stay, go to school and work in america and not be deported. 600,000 young people have come forward. we estimate there are some two million eligible, 600,000 come forward, 30,000 in my state of illinois. who are these young people? let me introduce you to one of them. oscar vazquez. oscar vazquez grew up in phoenix, arizona. his mother and father brought him to that city from mexico, and he was undocumented. he attended carl hayden high school in phoenix. he was a member of the junior rotc. his goal was to serve in the united states army. when he went to the recruiter to
sign up, the recruiter said i need your birth certificate. oscar said come on, we're fighting a war capital you just look the other way and let me join? he said no, young man you don't have the proper documents. you can't enlist in the united states army. well, he was despondent because that was his goal. he went home and he got engaged in another project, which is the subject of a new movie called "spare parts" which george lopez has produced and directed and starred in that i saw last week. i won't give away the whole story, but i can tell you this -- oscar vazquez and three other students at carl hayden high school entered into an underwater robotics competition. they competed with colleges like m.i.t. and they won. their high school team won the under water robotics competition. talented young man. oscar said i'm going to arizona state university without any government assistance, graduated with a degree in mechanical
engineering and after he got his degree, he had a wife and a baby and he said now i've got to get right with america. i've got to resolve this issue of being undocumented. that means oscar decided to move back to mexico. he was living in mexico. the law required him to stay there for ten years. that's how the law is written petitioning the united states for a chance to come back in. eventually, he was given a waiver. he came back to the united states and i'll tell you what he did. oscar vazquez came back, became a citizen of the united states of america and the first thing he did was enlist in the united states army. he went into combat in afghanistan and came home after having served our nation honorably, and now is working for a major railroad in the state of montana with his wife and children. that's the story of one dreamer one dreamer who given a chance, has made a difference in
america. he not only served in our military, but he had a degree in mechanical engineering. he is going to be a job creator a job builder himself. so what do the house republicans want to do to people like oscar vazquez? deport them. deport them. mr. president, that's exactly what they called for. they're dream killers and that isn't right. we ought to give oscar young men and women just like him a chance to succeed and a chance to make america better. well mr. president i've stood on there floor over 50 times with color photographs like this one by my side and told the stories of dreamers. this last weekend, i was in chicago and six of them came forward and told their stories each and every one of them, a compelling reason for us to defeat this mean-spirited amendment that came out of the house of representatives. the president will veto it if it
gets to his desk, but i hope that we will do better in the senate. i hope, i hope that there are enough senators on both sides of the aisle 60-plus, who will stand up for the dreamers of america. this is a test. it's a test as to whether or not we believe in fairness and justice and the value that immigrants like oscar vazquez bring to the future of america. the house of representatives just doesn't see it. they are blinded by their hatred for these immigrants, and they continue to pass these mean-spirited amendments. we can do better. we must do better as a nation. let us stand up for the dreamers and let us all be dedicated to passing comprehensive immigration reform. our immigration laws are broken, our system is broken, and it's time for us to accept our responsibility and repair it. we passed a bill a year and a half ago on the floor of the senate.
68, 14 republicans and democrats voted. sent it over to the house of representatives and it languished for a year and a half. they refused to even call it or consider it. well our immigration system's still broken. withholding money from the department of homeland security, threatening with these rioters that are dream killers for so many young people in america that's unacceptable. i will stand on this floor as long as it takes to defend this dream act and people like oscar vazquez who contributeed -- contributed to america and make it a better nation. i hope we will have bipartisan support for defeating the house of representatives riders that have been branded by the president as unacceptable and he will veto. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order the senate will be in a period of morning business for one hour with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each with the democrats controlling the first half and
the republicans controlling the final half. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. mrs. mccaskill: mr. president people who work in politics sometimes suffer a bad image. people who run for office, obviously, sometimes suffer a bad image but sometimes even worse is the image that what we call the political handlers have. those people who have made a career of professionally helping people get elected. they are seen as ruthless, as hired guns, as aggressive, even solace -- even soulless, unprincipled. i'm here to talk about one of those political operatives, but this political operative was
special. this political operative was my friend. he was principled, he was brave but most of all he was a patriot. pat gray passed away very recently and he will be missed. pat grew up in oklahoma. after serving four years in the navy he moved to kansas city where he took a job with the kansas city power and light company. he also became very active in the jaycees. he vowed that the work as part of the jaycee organization was exhilarating. he had his first taste on working on campaigns to improve the community and he was hooked. so very quickly he moved into advertising, and that
advertising job then morphed into working on political campaigns. pat made his bones in 1982 as a political consultant when he took on the sitting incumbent county executive in jackson county missouri. jackson county is this county where the person who used to have this desk is from: harry truman. jackson county is the county that contains kansas city. it was then and still is a place where democrats do well. so for pat gray to take on a candidate to beat a sitting incumbent county executive was quite brave because as i'm sure the president understands politics is rough locally. and when you take on a powerful
person in the predominating party in a community, there is usually a price to pay. but pat was not deterred and his candidate bill waras beat the county executive dale baumgartner. the following year pat was hired in a mayoral campaign where he was successful electing the kansas city mayor. pat was low key but he was aggressive. pat had little ego but lots of laser-like strategy. he was very easy going but he was very hard on his opponents. as one kansas citian put it after pat had passed away, pat slid into second with his spikes in the air. so you either had to make a very good throw or get out of the
way. that was his style very hands-on. he wanted to win badly. pat was instrumental in electing the first woman as jackson county executive. the first woman as jackson county prosecutor, my campaign for that office in 1992. and the first woman as mayor of kansas city. he helped to elect mayors, legislators, city council members, really too many for me to name, too many campaigns, too many candidates. and nine out of ten times he was successful. he helped me throughout my career. i remember vividly in 1990 when i was running for the county legislature, him coming to my home in coman highlands with a camera and him shooting a commercial with me sitting on my living room couch just the two of us. he became a trusted advisor and
my dear friend until his death. as i stand here today at the very desk that harry truman used in the senate, i stand here in part because of his help and his loyalty. i will be reaching for the phone to call pat gray countless times in the coming years. and while he helped many candidates, including me, it was on community issues that his record was particularly impressive. the e-tax renewal in kansas city, which many thought had no chance pat successfully steered. the renewal and invigoration of our sports complex in kansas city, the home of the division champion kansas city royals and our kansas city chiefs. pat gray strategized a brilliant campaign to revitalize downtown kansas city through the building of a major sports arena which
has now resulted in blocks and blocks of revitalization. in fact, real estate in kansas city residential real estate in downtown kansas city is now a hot ticket in large part because of pat gray. the very first area transportation tax which gave a lifeline to thousands of kansas citians in the urban area for allowing them to find a way to get to work. for property tax for indigent care at truman medical center. can you imagine anything that might be more difficult to pass, asking people to pay more property taxes to help care for the poor that were turning up ne emergency room at our major local hospital? pat gray did that. additional tax monies for both the police and fire, an issue very near and dear to my heart he helped me renew the community antidrug tax in kansas city,
which has been so instrumental in doing research and development on antidrug strategies that work. not just more police, not just more prosecutors not just more jail space but also prevention and treatment. pat gray was there helping me as we started the very first drug court in one of the very first -- one of the very first drug courts in the country in kansas city as a result of his help with the combat tax initiative. pat adoard -- adored his family. his wife, brenda, always patient and smiling. he really adored brenda. she climbed into the roller coaster with pat gray in the late 1970's and while she had to hold on during part of the ride, there was never any question that they were a team and she was his rock. his children, christopher donna and lauren, he was their guiding
light, and they were his pride and joy. pat loved this country. he loved his family. he loved his city. he loved his friends and he loved his work. but most of all he loved this country. pat's biggest secret as a sometimes rough and tumble political brawler, he was an idealist who was inspired every day by our grand and glorious democracy. he had deep respect for the system that he worked within. he understood that in america a good idea is sometimes enough. a good idea helped along by a professional consultant who was a patriot. we will miss you pat gray. we will miss you pat gray, the
mr. schumer: mr. president, good morning. the presiding officer: the senator is recognized. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: thank you mr. president. this morning i rise in support of two amendments that will make it clear to the american people exactly what this bill to authorize the keystone x.l. pipeline is all about and who our republican friends from across the aisle are trying to help. the amendments offered by senators markey and franken would ensure that the pipeline benefits the american consumer and the american economy.
without them, the bill to authorize the pipeline will benefit narrow special interests like foreign oil companies not hardworking americans. we've heard from several of my friends on the other side of the aisle including the lead sponsor, that the keystone bill is a jobs bill and an energy bill. that may be true but without senator markey's amendment, it is nothing but a canadian energy bill and without senator franken's amendment it's a paltry jobs bill. first on energy. in short the keystone bill will allow one canadian company to use the united states as a middleman to ship oil to the highest bidder abroad. the canadian oil company trans-canada, refuses to commit to keeping the crude oil or the refined product in america. canadian tar sands oil is already traveling through gulf coast refineries on its way to foreign markets and as the "wall street journal" has
reported much of the crude oil that would flow through the keystone x.l. pipeline would ultimately be exported as refined product. so why not mr. president add to this bill, why not add to this bill a requirement that any oil products transported through the keystone x.l. pipeline be consumed here in america? plain and simple that's exactly what senator markey's amendment would do. if republicans are serious about approving our energy security, they will support senator markey's amendment. second let's talk about whether this is a real jobs bill. mr. president, republicans and supporters of the project like to cite that building the pipeline will support american industries and american jobs in iron and steel but a 2011 analysis by cornell university found that 50% or more of the steel pipe will be manufactured outside -- outside -- the united states.
it's no wonder that even the most optimistic jobs projections about the keystone pipeline are a drop in the bucket compared to just one month of job growth in our country. in the final tally the state department report says it will create only 35 permanent jobs. so mr. president why not guarantee in the bill that the u.s.-made iron and steel and manufactured goods be used to build the pipeline? that's exactly what democrats have offered in an amendment worked out by senators franken and wyden. now, these amendments should be bipartisan. republicans have supported several measures in the past. i know many of my republican colleagues voted the ban the export of oil drilled in the anwr in alaska. i hope they will join us on this amendment as well. and if republicans oppose us,
they'll be making it crystal clear to americans that they're on the side of narrow special interests instead of on the side of america's middle class. they will be supporting special interests over american jobs. let me be clear we think the keystone pipeline should not be built and there are several reasons for that, among them that the pipeline may accelerate global climate change. tar sands oil is far far dirtier than conventional crude oil. democrats would much rather see an energy bill that promotes clean energy sources like solar and wind industries which create far more jobs, both construction and manufacturing using far cleaner energy than the pipeline. why not have a policy that produces many more jobs with the cleanest of energy than very few jobs with the dirtiest energy on the north american continent? but if keystone is going to be
built we think it just shouldn't benefit canadian oil companies and overseas steal overseas steel manufacturers but should actually benefit american families and the average worker. to conclude, mr. president, i want to note, instead of a real energy bill or a real jobs bill or an infrastructure bill or immigration or any bill to address the greatest problems facing our country at the moment moment the decline in middle-class incomes and the lack of middle-class jobs for their first proposal action in the 114th congress, senate bill number 1 republicans have chosen a permit for a foreign oil company that would create 35 -- 35 -- permanent jobs. this is not an opening with a bang. this is an opening with a whisper. it's -- like leading off a new
baseball game with a bunt. now, democrats can't change what bills republicans put on the calendar but our amendments will show a clear and stark contrast if republicans vote "no." on these amendments and more, republicans are going to have to make a choice -- will they continue to fight for narrow special interests or will they work with democrats to advance america's middle class by creating more jobs and putting more money in the pockets of american families. time and these votes will tell. thank you mr. president. i yield the floor. mr. president, i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
mr. thune: i ask unanimous i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. thune: mr. president tonight the president of the united states will lay out his agenda for the year. unfortunately it sounds like much of it will be a rehash of the same stale top-down ideas the democrats have been trotting out for the past six years. more taxes. more spending. more regulation. in other words more government. if democrats could sum up their agenda in one phrase, it would be government knows best. but, mr. president the past six years have very clearly
demonstrated that government does not know best. the past six years of the obama economy have not been kind to american families. it's time for new ideas. it's time to change the focus from building up government to building up people. americans need more jobs better wages and lower costs for health care education and energy. and republicans' priority is meeting those challenges. we want to rebuild the economy from the ground up and increase economic opportunity for every american. mr. president, tonight the president will talk about helping middle-class families and republicans are glad to see the president pivoting back to middle-class concerns something republicans have never looked away from. we hope president obama is serious about wanting to work with republicans to address the challenges facing the middle class. but it's a little hard to take the president seriously when he's talking about helping
middle-class families while simultaneously issuing veto threats for bills that would benefit them. within the past two weeks the president has issued veto threats for two bills that would help create jobs for middle-class families, a bill to fix obamacare's 30-hour work week provision which is affecting families hours and wages, and i abill to approve the keystone pipeline. the house passed both of these bills earlier in the month and the senate is currently in the process of considering the keystone legislation. if it weren't for the president's veto threat, keystone x.l. could be approved in the next few weeks. but thanks to the president the pipeline's future is still in doubt. mr. president, the keystone x.l. pipeline is supported by bipartisan majorities in both houses of congress. six of the seven keystone bill's original cosponsors are democrats. the american people support the
pipeline. unions a traditionally democrat constituency, support the pipeline because their members want the jobs the pipeline would create. in fact, a number of unions sent letters just this month rity reiterating their support for the pipeline. here's what james p. hoffa had to say president of the teamsters -- "the teamsters union continues to believe that the keystone x.l. pipeline will contribute to enhanced energy securities economic prosperity and of critical importance, the creation of good-paying jobs." now, mr. president those aren't republican talking points. that's a letter from james hoffa, president of the international brotherhood of teamsters. edwin d. hill, president of the international brotherhood of electrical workers said something similar. and, again i quote -- "at a time when job creation should be a top priority the keystone x.l. pipeline project will put
americans back to work and have ripple benefits throughout the economy. during construction, the project is expected to support at least 42,000 jobs and contribute $3.4 billion to the u.s. gross domestic product." and, mr. president again that's are from edwin d. hill, president of the international brotherhood of electrical workers. and yet despite all this support support, president obama is willing to turn his back on american workers to appease the only penal people -- the only people -- who seem to oppose the pipeline and that's members of the far left environmental wing of the democrat party. over the years the president has offered various excuses for why he's not yet ready to approve the pipeline. he cited environmental concerns. the only problem with that, of course is that the president's own state department has stated the project will have minimal impact on the environment. the president has also cited the court case over the pipeline's nebraska route as a reason for
waiting on the pipeline approval. well as of a week and a half ago that excuse is gone. the nebraska supreme court has now upheld the pipeline's route. and the administration responded by reiterating the president's veto threat. mr. president, president obama has tried to minimize the impact of the pipeline delays by diminishing the importance of the jobs the pipeline would create. he has repeatedly mentioned that most of the jobs the pipeline will create will be temporary. well tell that to a construction worker who is looking for a job. does the president oppose all infrastructure projects because some of the jobs they create are temporary or does he just oppose projects when the jobs they create are opposed by the fringe elements of his party?
mr. president, the keystone x.l. pipeline will be a boon for our economy and for american workers. the president's own state department has stated the pipeline will support more than 42,000 jobs during construction and contribute $3.4 billion to the economy. my home state of south dakota, the pipeline will support 3,000 to 4,000 jobs during construction and generate over $100 million in earnings again according to the president's state department. these are not my figures mr. president. these are figures from the president of the united states' own state department. keystone x.l. will also bring in millions of state and local taxes. that's money that can be used for a host of local priorities, from schools to law enforcement to roads and bridges. in addition to providing jobs and generating revenue for state and local governments the keystone x.l. pipeline will also help america's farmers get their goods to the market. rail backlogs this fall left too
many farmers struggling to ship their harvest. keystone x.l. would help alleviate future backlogs by taking 100,000 barrels of north dakota and montana oil off the rails which would free up substantial space for farmers and for other rail shippers. finally, mr. president the keystone x.l. pipeline would strengthen our energy security by reducing our dependence upon energy supplies from volatile countries. this increased energy security would also help keep energy prices low for american families. recent gas price reductions are largely due to increased north american energy development which has reduced our dependence on oil from countries like venezuela, russia and iran. the keystone x.l. pipeline will help us continue to replace oil imports from volatile countries with our own oil and imports from our friend and ally canada. that in turn will help peep
american family's energy bills low. the energy bills accounting for more than a quarter of after-tax income for families making less than $30,000 lowering americans' energy costs should be a priority. mr. president, it's time for the president of the united states to fish or to cut bait. approving the keystone x.l. pipeline should be a no-brainer. republicans support it, democrats support it, unions support it, the american people support it. the pipeline would create jobs. it would increase revenue for local governments. it would strengthen our energy security. and, mr. president, it would do all of this, all of this without spending a dime of taxpayer money. president obama can talk all he wants tonight about helping american workers and middle-class families, but it's
mr. boozman: tonight we will gather in the house chamber to listen to the president's state of the union address. this will be the first time in barack obama's presidency that he delivers a state of the union address to a republican-led house and senate. some see this as a prescription for gridlock. others including myself, see this as an opportunity for the executive branch and the legislative branch to work together to actually get some things done. there is recent precedent that shows this arrangement can work. in fact, it's a period of our history where an arkansan played a huge role. during the final six years of bill clinton's presidency, he faced the same situation as our current president. he worked with the republicans to reform the welfare system. he worked with the republicans to balance the budget an accomplishment that has not been repeated since. he worked with congress, not just to go around them.
i don't expect us to always agree. there are some stark ideological differences between president obama and a republican majority for which there is really no agreement. without one side for the other abandoning their principles. i don't intend to do that. i don't see the president doing that either. what i do hope, however, is that he not only try to find common ground with not only us but the american people. when that happens work gets done here. even in the last congress with a democrat majority in the senate blocking almost everything in an effort to protect president obama, we still had flashes of bipartisan agreement. we agreed on a new farm bill that assures the continued safety of affordability and reliability of our food supply, while achieving real savings in federal spending. we reformed the v.a. to address
the horrific wait times that our veterans face while trying to receive the health care that they earned, and we passed a spending agreement that brings discretionary spending to its lowest level in almost a decade. and has a number of provisions that adhere to conservative principles. both parties did not get everything they wanted in any of these instances but the final product was the result of individuals coming from different starting points and arriving at the same finish line. that is what the american people want but that takes an honest commitment from all parties involved. one way the president can show he is really ready to work with congress is to abandon his misguided plan to circumvent congress and grant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. i anticipate that president obama will try tonight once again to defend his actions by blaming congress for not passing
immigration reform. the truth is everyone in this chamber is eager to tackle immigration reform. the president is acting unilaterally because he knows congress does not support his amnesty proposal. he knows the final product of our work will not include that provision, so he intends to go around congress to get his way. and now the president seems intent to dig his heels in deeper by threatening to veto our efforts to defund his actions. this is just one of the veto threats president obama has already issued just weeks into the new congress. this doesn't bode well for bipartisanship. i hope tonight's speech is light on the veto threats and heavy on the areas where we can find common agreement. i think those are plentiful. i really do believe that that is possible. a fair and simple tax system, creating jobs, making washington more efficient effective and
accountable, these are the issues americans want us to address and the areas where compromise is possible. that's where our focus should be on what the country wants not what the president wants. if everyone comes to the table ready to work, i think we can surprise everyone with what we can achieve but that takes presidential leadership. arkansans showed it can be done. president obama should look to his example for how to move forward and to work with the republican congress. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration of s. 1, which the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 1 s. 1 a bill to approve the keystone x.l. pipeline. ms. murkowski: mr. president we are back on the bill before us a measure that would allow for permit to be approved to allow for construction of the keystone x.l. pipeline from canada into the united states. we had good discussion last week certainly on friday. we have several amendments that are pending before the body. the senator from massachusetts has one on oil exports. senator portman on energy efficiency. another measure sponsored by senator franken relating to american steel. obviously it's important that we
begin the process of processing these amendments because we have a significant amount of interest in the issues in front of us. at this point there are -- i think we're already over -- we're over 50 filed amendments as of friday evening. as of this morning we maybe have more on deck. clearly a great deal of interest not only on the keystone x.l. but other energy related amendments as well. as we work through finalizing the events for this afternoon, i would like to alert members that we would like to have votes on at least the three pending amendments that are before us that i just mentioned hopefully
by midafternoon. we are aware that the senate will close early today because of the president's state of the union this evening. so my hope is that we would be able to process these three. it has come to our attention that senator portman's amendment may need to be modified. he is in the process of doing that. and it may be that we will be able to accept that amendment this afternoon by voice vote. but at this point in time i would encourage members to come to us as the floor managers here. let's figure out how we get these amendments pending before the senate on the republican side we have three folks that are queued up, ready to offer theirs when it is appropriate
as we had agreed last week, we will go from side to side in terms of the amendments that will be considered. hopefully this will be the beginning of a good, constructive week as we turn to regular order here in the senate processing amendments. with that, i would turn to my colleague on the energy committee, senator cantwell for any comments that she might care to make. ms. cantwell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. ms. cantwell: mr. president just to reiterate obviously our opposition to this legislation new polling has come out showing the american public really does, over 60% going through a normal process and not subverting what are environmental laws. but we are going to move forward in getting this legislation voted on. and my colleague just outlined a process for this afternoon about that process. so i would encourage members to come to the floor to offer their amendments. i know senator franken is coming to offer his amendment.
i see the senator from massachusetts here to speak on his amendment. so hopefully while they're speaking, we can get a vote schedule firmed up and talk about other amendments besides the three that we have pending. but i would agree with the senator from alaska that members should come down here and talk on their amendments and that we should keep the process moving. so with that, i'm not sure who is next. ms. murkowski: mr. president, i believe that the sponsor of this legislation, senator hoeven, would like to address the chamber for a few minutes here this afternoon on not only the -- the amendments that are pending but the bigger picture of keystone x.l. with that, i would turn it over to senator hoeven. ms. cantwell: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from washington. ms. cantwell: would i inquire of the senator from alaska and the senator from north dakota how long he intends to speak so we
can make sure our colleague from massachusetts knows that he has his time before we get locked out for lunch? mr. hoeven: mr. president my inquiry would be how much time does the senator from massachusetts need? i would be willing to defer my time until later as long as i know that i would have approximately ten minutes before the hard break at 12:30. ms. cantwell: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from washington. ms. cantwell: i would think that if we -- if it's okay to allow the senator from massachusetts to proceed and know that if our hard stop is 12:30 that at least -- so i would make this request, that both senators be allowed to speak for ten minutes starting with senator markey followed by senator hoeven, and if they want to extend their remarks that they could make a unanimous request to do so. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection.
mr. markey: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. mr. markey: may i ask a parliamentary inquiry and it would be this. would it be possible for me to speak for five minutes and reserve the balance of my time and have the senator from north dakota speak and then i can reclaim the remainder of my time? the presiding officer: that will take consent. mr. hoeven: without objection. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. mr. markey: mr. president we are about to engage in an historic debate, and that is over whether or not the canadians, a canadian oil company, should be allowed to take the dirtiest oil in the world, the canadian tar sands oil, to have the united states accede to the construction of a pipeline like a straw through
our country which would then go down to the gulf of mexico with no promise from the canadians that they will not export the oil from the united states. so the issue which is raised, of course is what's in it for the united states since there is a very small number of jobs for our country once the pipeline is completed. we understand why the canadian company wants to do this. if they can get that oil out onto the global marketplace using the united states as the conduit, they can get a dramatically higher price for that oil. we understand their motivation. but what's in it for the united states of america? because ultimately we have to decide what's in our best interests. what my amendment says is that if this pipeline is constructed that the oil stays here, that
our country gets the benefit our consumers get the benefit. otherwise, it's not about energy independence. it's not about north american energy independence. it's about a canadian company exporting the oil using the united states as a conduit as a straw, as a pipeline. that's it. what's in it for us? the american people right now are enjoying historically low oil prices. they love it. it's like a tax cut to every american. if this canadian oil gets exported you better believe it, it's going to act as a spur to raise the price of oil. the more oil that's here, the better for us. the more oil that leaves our country, the worse for us. give you another number if you want to know because this is a canadian export pipeline. the united states of america right now is the leading
importing country for oil in the world. we're number one. we import net about five million barrels of oil a day. we're number one. we're the number one importing country. then comes china then comes india, then comes japan. five million barrels a day. how can we be exporting oil when we're the leading importer of oil? and what countries do we import the oil from? today, 2015, we import the oil from saudi arabia, from venezuela, from iraq, from russia from nigeria. how can we be exporting our young men and women in uniform over to the middle east in order to protect these ships coming in with oil in them and simultaneously being exporting oil out of the united states while we are still importing five million barrels of oil a day? that's what this debate's all about. it doesn't make any sense.
this is the dirtiest oil in the world. this oil is going to dangerously add to the warming of the planet. and the canadians the american petroleum institute they won't promise that the oil stays here even though their ads on tv say it's all about north american energy independence. and so we have a huge choice that we have to make here, ladies and gentlemen. do we want to help our economy do we want to help our national security help our consumers help our manufacturers by giving them this lower price of energy, which except for labor is the number one component in industry in the united states to keep that price low. the markey amendment says yes that oil stays here in the united states of america for our own strength, our own economy our own consumers our own job creation and not be sent off
into the world so the canadian oil company can get a much higher price of that oil while we take all the risks. we would not be uncle sam. we would be uncle sucker if we did not keep that oil here. i reserve the balance of my time. the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. mr. hoeven: mr. president i appreciate this opportunity to engage in a discussion with my colleague from massachusetts on these important issues, and he has raised several in regard to oil export and then also in regard to the environmental aspects. if i might take a minute to address both of those. for starters, i'd point out that it's interesting that my good friend from massachusetts is opposed to this pipeline project. he talks about our need to import oil and therefore we shouldn't allow any exports because we need to import oil
yet he's opposed to a project that would not only bring canadian oil to our country 830,000 barrels a day but also would help us move 100,000 barrels of oil a day from my state of north dakota and our neighboring state of montana like bakken crude. he talks about that and the need to import oil. the irony here is if he is successful and he and the other critics and opponents of the pipeline and this infrastructure are successful, then what canada will do is they will build a pipeline to the west coast of canada and they'll export that oil to china 100% of it. so it appears that his argument is that, well, some portion of this oil might be exported if we build a pipeline, that somehow it's better to force canada to export 100% of it to china. now, i don't understand -- i don't begin to understand that
argument. so if we can't have 100% every single drop stay here, then we're better off to send all 100% to china. that's my opponent's argument. i don't understand it. it doesn't make sense to me. the second point i'd like to make is that if he goes to the environmental impact statement issued by the obama state department the environmental impact statement says that the oil will be used in the united states. and he looks at the obamas' department of energy report, he'll see that that report also indicates that this oil is going to be used in the united states. now, that doesn't mean that we use every drop of it. i'll give you some statistics. the u.s. retains 99% of all crude oil within the country that we produce. the u.s. uses 97% of the
gasoline -- of the oil -- excuse me 97% of the gasoline that we refine in this country. so remember this oil comes to refineries in illinois, it gets refined, and the statistics are we use 97% of the gasoline from the oil that's refined in our country. the other thing i point out is that the oil that comes in this pipeline along with the crude that comes from the bakken region in my part of the country, so it's both canadian and domestic oil that cannot be exported without approval from the secretary of commerce of the obama administration. so here, again my good friend from massachusetts is putting forth an amendment that absolutely no oil in this one pipeline can be exported at any time to anywhere in the country yet they already have provision in law that it can't be exported without the secretary of
commerce's approval, and the secretary of commerce is appointed by president obama. so again, if you look at the administration's own reports and they have been done over more than the six years that this project has been pending. the administration now has had six years to review this project, has done so, has produced five environmental impact statements. the conclusion of those environmental impact statements are, by the way no significant environmental impact. that's the administration's own environmental impact statements produced by the state department but after six years they have come out and said this oil will be used here and that to be exported it would have -- that would have to be approved by the secretary of commerce, like other oil exports are handled in this country and furthermore, if we don't build a pipeline it's either all going to be sent to china so we wouldn't get any of it or we're going to have to move it via
rail cars, 1,400 rail cars a day creating more congestion on our -- on our railroads. so mr. president, at this point i would inquire as to how much time i have used of my ten minutes. the presiding officer: five minutes. mr. hoeven: all right. at this point then i would yield back to my good friend from massachusetts. the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. mr. markey: i thank the senator very much. 2014 has just been reported by nasa as the single warmest year ever recorded in the history of the planet, going back to the earliest records. and so you don't have to be a deductive to figure out what's going on. the world is dangerously warming. the united states can no longer
preach temperance from a bar stool and tell the rest of the world you should be better while we continue to burn these fuels. but if they're going to build this pipeline, at least the american people should be the beneficiaries of the canadian activity to sell all this oil out onto the global market. and what we are being told is no we don't want any restrictions. we don't want to have there be any way in which we can keep that oil here, to keep prices at least low for the american consumer for american job creation to keep oil here so we can maybe back out the saudi arabian oil maybe back out the kuwaiti oil maybe back out the russian oil that we're importing right now today as we sit here. but we're being told we can't do
that. we're being told that the republican leadership thinks that's a bad idea. when i asked the head of the trans-canada pipeline in the hearing would you grow to keep the oil in the united states, he just looked at me and said no. so this is what's going on, ladies and gentlemen. and what happens for the american consumer, well, i'll tell you what happens. it's a -- it's a very simple formula. every time that there is a $10 increase in the price of a barrel of oil it knocks .2% of a point to .3% of a percentage point off the growth rate of the american economy. when americans pay less for american oil and we import less foreign oil consumers have more money in their pockets from that discounted american oil. that is like a direct economic stimulus for middle-class
families and small businesses across the country. analysts say that the drop in oil prices will give hundreds of billions back to consumers and other parts of our economy. every penny reduction in gas prices translates into into $1 billion in consumer savings. and the so when the the polling is done on this issue and the american people are asked "would you support the exportation of american oil," by a 3-1 margin people say all across the country regardless of party no, do not export it. keep that oil here to make america stronger here at home. that's not democrat. that's not republican. that's not not independent. that's all people being polled, across the board. and so that's just commonsense because they know that the more oil we export is the higher the prices are going to be for consumed here because we have less oil.
so this is a simple debate. the planet is running a fever. there are no emergency rooms for planets. we have to engage in preventive care. the republican leadership thinks that they have the votes in order to pass this bill, which will dangerously harm the planet. my amendment says, well, if that's going to be the case -- and i'm not voting for that bill -- at least let's keep the oil here, at least let's get the benefit for consumers so that we keep prices low gas prices home for home heating oil prices low for jet fuel, prices low for diesel. let's keep the oil here. let's get the benefit for our economy. let's not the oil companies set the agenda. the republican leadership keeps saying it's all of the above. with the, ladies and gentlemen this amendment addition -- this bill, rather, this bill basically says no it's oil above all. that's what it's all about. and it's not even oil that's going to necessarily stay in the united states.
so it's a very simple very simple argument i'm making. we import 5 million barrels of oil a day. they come from the worst places in the world. that we we shouldn't be dependent upon. 5 million barrels a day. we export young men and women over to the middle east to protect that oil coming in. the least that we owe to those young men and women is when we get a chance to reduce our dependence upon imported oil that we take that chance. that we send that message to the rest of the world that we understand our achilles heel, we understand what makes us weak. and so if we are not going to have -- the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. mr. markey: i thank the -- the president and i urge an "aye" vote on the markey amendment. mr. hoeven: mr. president be, i appreciate this debate. it's an important debate to have. clearly the senator from massachusetts and myself have very different ideas about how
this should be addressed but this is the debate that we need to have. this is about the energy future that we're building for this country. and so i'm glad that we're engaged in this debate and, you know, let's work to build the kind of energy plan that's going to truly make our country energy secure. and, you know, to do that we not only need to produce energy domestically, we need to work with our closest friend and ally canada and at the same time as we produce that energy we need the infrastructure to move it to our markets rather than sending it overseas. and so it's ironic on the one hand the senator is proposing an amendment saying, oh, no, if we get any of this oil we've got to have all of it. and he's making an argument that doesn't work in a global economy where he's saying, if we can't have 100% of it every single day, not one drop leaves, then export all of it. i want 100% or nothing.
well that doesn't make sense. the whole point is we just got done showing that the oil will be used here and for any of it to be exported, you'd need the secretary of commerce's approval. but we've got to talk in a larger context because this debate we're having isn't just about the keystone x.l. pipeline pipeline, it's about the future of energy security for our country. are we going to work to produce oil and gas domestically? are we going to work with canada to bring their oil and gas that they produce as well to us rather than having them export it to china so that we're energy secure? and what i mean by that is we produce more oil and gas in north america than we consume. when we do that, we become energy secure. and as far as this argument about any kind of other source of energy or renewable that this somehow precludes it, it doesn't. let's produce all those other energy sources as well. they're not mutually exclusive. preventing us from producing
more oil and gas and working with canada to produce more oil and gas so we don't have to get it from opec in no way excludes any other type of energy development. they're not mutually exclusive. so yeah, let's do it all but don't block this effort to make us energy secure in oil and gas so that we don't have to depend on opec. and that's the real issue underlying this debate. that's why we've got to build this vital infrastructure right now. when americans go to the pump they're paying i think i saw today the national average is about $2.05 for gasoline. why is that? as i've said before on this floor, it's not because opec decided to give us a christmas present. and when opec can they'll try to push those gas prices right back up. the reason that gas prices at the pump are down now for all our consumers and for all our small businesses is because we're producing more oil and gas at home and we're getting more
from canada. the united states uses about 18 million barrels a day of oil. about 18 million barrels. okay. right now we produce about 11 million barrels in the united states. we import another 3 billion from canada. that -- 3 million from canada. that gets us down to 14 million. so we're only importing about 4 million a day. if we continue to work with canada and develop our own energy resource, pretty soon we will be at that point where we produce more energy than we consume. but we've got to have this discussion about needing the infrastructure and also our ability to operate in globally amarkets. a-- in global markets. and i want to talk more about that. because when we produce more oil and gas it puts downward pressure on oil prices on the world market. most of those world prices are priced off brent crude. as we produce more oil we not only help ourselves we help our allies. so we've got to understand what
it takes to build an energy plan and do it the right way rather than blocking the very infrastructure and doing the very things that have led to incredible benefits today for our consumers at the pump. if that were a tax cut that reduction of more than a dollar in the gas prices is a hundred billion dollars in our consumers' pockets. that's the impact. so it is about jobs. it's about energy. it's about jobs. it's about growing our economy. it's about national security. but not by blocking these efforts that are benefiting our consumers and making our country stronger and safer and helping our allies, but by continuing to move forward with them. i look forward to discussing more of that and the environmental impact and all the efforts -- one more statistic before i turn to my good colleague from nebraska. since 1990, the greenhouse gas emissions for oil sand produced oil have gone down 28%.
almost a third. because in alberta, they're taking huge steps to continue to improve the environmental stewardship of this production. and i look forward to discussing that further. now, mr. president, i think i have control of the floor time until 12:30. the presiding officer: the time is not controlled. mr. hoeven: under prior agreement. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer:.the presiding officer: the senator from washington. ms. cantwell: mr. president i see my colleague from minnesota here who wanted to speak on his amendment which is pending and i know our colleague from nebraska is here and she's been waiting so i would hope that before we adjourn, there's some way we could accommodate both of them. mr. hoeven: mr. president, i would ask that we turn to my colleague from nebraska and i would be willing to confer as far as time for the senator from
minnesota. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. the senator from nebraska. mrs. fischer: thank you mr. president. and thank you for your comments, the senator from north dakota. i, too would like to speak on the great improvements to our economy due to energy production production. the american oil and natural gas surge has created jobs across this country and renewed investment in infrastructure transforming many unlikely states and cities into energy hubs for fuel production. over the last five years alone the united states has increased our domestic supply of oil and gas by 50%. in an amazing turnaround, the united states is now on track to overtake saudi arabia as the world's top oil producer resulting in the creation of thousands of american jobs and
greater savings for consumers. the natural gas industry has also grown tremendously and has become one of the world's -- and the united states has become one of the world's number-one producers. across this great nation, we are fortunate to have a diverse portfolio of energy resources including coal and nuclear hydroelectric, natural gas and multiple renewable energy sources, such as ethanol wind and solar. these resources can be used to improve the lives of all americans. american consumers are now blessed with multiple options to obtain the affordable reliable energy that is being produced in an environmentally responsible manner. but in order to maintain and grow our domestic energy security we need to have policies that support that goal. unfortunately, president obama has given only lip service to an
all-of-the-above energy strategy while pushing a counter agenda that has restricted domestic production and energy choices. that costs americans billions of dollars. meanwhile, the e.p.a. is taking this anti-american energy agenda to a new level with proposals that jeopardize the affordability and reliability of electricity for all americans. the e.p.a.'s proposed rule for existing power plants would force the premature retirement of efficient low-cost coal-fueled generation leading to potential loss of millions of dollars in investments made over the last decade to make coal plants cleaner. these proposals would make it nearly impossible for the united states which possesses the world's largest reserves of coal, to continue to utilize
this affordable and abundant energy source. nebraska's families and businesses which depend on coal-fired generation for nearly two-thirds of their electric needs they're going to be disproportionately penalized under this plan. under this administration, it is federal government has quashed energy projects by slowwalking politicizing and rejecting routine permits to build energy infrastructures like the keystone pipeline. this important project has the clear capacity to grow our economy and maintain our energy security. on this floor, we have heard many comments during this debate about the nebraska legislature and what was done with regard to the keystone pipeline.
well let me set the record straight. i was in the nebraska legislature at that time. in fact, the proposed pipeline route crosses my former legislative district. and, by the way i am a cattle rancher. i live in the nebraska sandhills and i live over the ogallala aquifer. the legislation was not coerced and the nebraska legislature was certainly not confused as some of my colleagues on the other side have implied. the nebraska legislature is a very open and public process. every bill -- every single bill that's introduced has a public hearing, and our citizens are welcome and they are encouraged to come to those public hearings and express their opinions
before legislative committees. we also have three stages of debate. we have three stages of debate on every single bill before that final vote. the nebraska legislature made decisions dealing with the pipeline siting within our state's borders. the bill passed on a 44-5 vote. i would also mention that the entire nebraska congressional delegation which does include a democrat congressman from the 2nd congressional district, and he also served in the nebraska legislature, we are united in our support for this bill. this bill has been called an opening gambit or spin by some of my colleagues last week.
mr. president, for the vast majority of nebraskans this is about certainty. nebraskans want a decision made. this has been going on for six years. it is time for the president to make a decision. i'm also working on some commonsense amendments to improve the arduous nepa approval process and to protect private property energy production. and i am also going to be offering amendments to set commonsense limitations for federal land designations. i'm excited about the opportunities we have to pursue policies where we can